Vocation
John A. Ward
When Cooder was a boy in grade school, it was always the boy in front
of him who got in trouble, mostly because that boy would be turned
around talking to Cooder when the teacher looked at the class.

"Leave Cooder alone," Sister Mary Sampson said. She picked up
Cooder's friend Smelly Kelly and the desk and chair combination, and
threw the ensemble out in the hall.  Sister wasn't big, but she was
wiry and had the strength of ten normal sized men.

It all changed when Cooder got to high school and sat between the
Phleughsie twins.

"Hi!" he said to Suzie Phleughsie on the first day.

"Hiya Big Boy," she answered.  She heard Lauren Bacall say that in one
of the movies she watched on late night television when her mother
left her and her sister at home and went to the Hooterville Bar, a
honkey tonk on the outskirts of town, to unwind after a day at the
Shell station, doing tune-ups and fixing trannies.

Florence Phleughsie, not to be outdone by her precocious sibling,
punched him in the arm and said, "I could show you a good time,"
though she would later deny it.

By their third year, Cooder had sold his entire stamp collection and
his ten-gallon tank of exotic aquarium fishes and started to steal
hubcaps from the parking lot of the Hooterville Bar, fencing them to
the twins' mom, who sold them on weekends from her booth at the flea
market.

It's likely that Cooder would have gone straight to prison and then to
hell if he hadn't met Chesty in his senior year.  It was she who
inspired him to take up photography.  Glamour photography, he called
it.

"That name is a euphemism," said Chesty.

Cooder didn't know what a euphemism was, but he had found his vocation.




First published: May 2016
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